Famed architect’s sketches found in Oakham House

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By Vanessa Thomas

Oakham’s manager found a historical gold-mine while cleaning over the summer.

In July, Dale McNichol, managing director of Oakham House, found an original sketch and a reproduction of St. Michael’s Cathedral when he was cleaning out the storage room and moving valuable items to the attic.

“Someone must have put them away without realizing its value,” he said.

McNichol decided to hang the framed pictures above the fireplace in Oakham House’s Thomas Lounge at first.

But when Claude Doucet, Ryerson’s archivist, saw the pictures, he immediately suggested they be moved to Ryerson’s archives.

McNichol didn’t jump at the idea.  He wanted to consult with Oakham’s management committee and allow it to decide where the pictures should be kept.

The committee voted to donate the pictures to the archives this month.

Doucet believes one of the pictures of St. Michael’s Cathedral is an original, designed by William Thomas more than 150 years ago.

Thomas, a 19th-century architect, designed St. Michael’s Cathedral, which was built around 1845.  He then built and designed Oakham House in 1848, which served as his residence until his death in 1860.

“William Thomas is one of the city’s most noted architects.  He designed Oakham House, which belongs to Ryerson, so that’s more than enough reason to place it in the archives,” said Doucet.

David Steele, RyeSAC’s president, says he wants duplicates of the originals to be displayed in Oakham House.  “Future students need to know the history of campus.”

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